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Discovery and Response

Most historical records repositories have experienced theft at some time, whether they are aware of it or not. Taking preventive measures reduces the opportunities for theft and number of occurrences, but cannot stop a thief from trying, and sometimes succeeding.

If you have taken appropriate steps to prevent theft and to be ready in case one occurs (see Prevention & Preparedness), you may be able to notice and thwart a theft in progress. If you discover a theft after it has occurred, you will have information about what was stolen and who had access to it—information that will help you and law enforcement identify the thief and recover the items.

Discovering Loss
Become familiar with the steps to take once you have discovered that items from your collection are missing or that someone has had unauthorized access to or disturbed your collection.

Learn what to do – and what not to do – if you observe or someone reports suspicious behavior that may be a theft in progress. 

Theft - Discovery after the Fact
More often, a theft will be discovered after it has occurred. Learn how to respond if this happens to you.

Law Enforcement
Theft of historical records is a crime.  Learn how to work with law enforcement officers in responding to a suspected or observed theft and find out about state and federal laws related to historical records theft.

Learn how the communications you initiate after discovering a theft will affect your organization’s reputation, its relationships with its supporters and stakeholders, and its ability to recover stolen items.

Organizational Impact
Learn ways to minimize the negative impacts of a theft on your employees, volunteers, researchers, and others close to the organization.